Rags of Light

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Against Originality.

From maybe my favorite cookbook, Viana LaPlace’s Unplugged Kitchen:

In my family we basically ate the same all year round, with a seasonal rotation of dishes: In cool weather, we had broccoli with lemon or wild greens, in summer, a salad of tomato, potato, and green beans. It never occurred to me to grow tired of these dishes. Each time we had them, I enjoyed them just as much or even more, like a friendship that grows deeper with the years.

My grandmothers always prepared their specialties… To this day, these foods sharply recall to me my grandmothers; I can see them at the stove cooking carefully and lovingly, smell the pungency of red wine vinegar or the strong herbal aroma of dried oregano. I can feel their presence when I prepare those dishes in my own kitchen.

So, don’t be afraid to repeat dishes. Decide on a few simple signature dishes and serve them again and again to your heart’s content – for family and for friends. Remember, the complexity of your cooking or its ceaseless novelty is not the measure of who you are.

Elsewhere, she encourages us to have wine at the table and to be careful not to be drawn into a quest for the “best” wine. These wholesome teachings make me think about the ways that the restless search for the Next Thing, so familiar in our tech-based world, can even invade the most primal activities, such as cooking. Caution!